Translation Project

In this project, I will be translating circa 500 characters a day from English into Simplified Chinese from the book《无出路咖啡馆》(No Exit Cafe).

5 January 2021

房间很小,一扇窗也没有,比我寒碜公寓里的那间浴室还小。一只日光灯被四面白墙反射,光线过剩。靠近天花板的地方有个长方形口子,室内的人能否得到足够空气就看它的了。你别想逃,不信你逃逃看。我像所有嫌疑者一样,对这间八平方米审讯室的头一个条件反射是:逃跑有多大的成功率?就算逃出这扇门,还有门外长长的走廊,然后是个四通八达的大办公室,在那里你马上会失去东南西北。即使你走运,找到了出路,你也会在接待室被截住。接待室是一间明亮宽敞的大厅,公正而森严,架子摆得很大,挂着星条旗和联邦调查局的徽记。你最远能逃到那里。再远,大厅门口那个彪形卫士就会马上翻脸,叫你“站住!举起手来”,他会拔出手枪,叫你〝到墙根那儿去〞!然后枪口顶着你的后脑勺,空闲的那只手便上来搜你的身。那个场面比较没面子,我就真成了反面人物。

我此刻当然不是正面人物。从天花板上的方形口子里面的监视器镜头里看,我大概有不少疑点。镜头中我脸色苍白,缺乏营养和睡眠,心神不宁且脑筋迟钝,如同大部分刚着陆到这个国度的中国人。在镜头里我的白色羽绒服、大红围脖、冒牌“LEVI’S” 牛仔裤使我大致混得过去。一个超龄留学生,像大多数亚洲女学生一样,留着最省钱的发式披肩长发。不过,你别想轻易混过去,没那么简单。


Discussion:

日光灯:fluorescent light

失去东南西北: lose your sense of direction

马上翻脸: [intentionally did not translate]

反面人物: the bad guy

不少疑点: suspicious points

心神不宁: distracted

脑筋迟钝: slow-witted

羽绒服: white coat

使我大致混得过去: I am passable


The room is very small, even smaller than the bathroom of my shabby apartment. Not a single window in sight. A single fluorescent light bouncing off the four white walls is too bright. Whether people inside the room can get enough air depends on a rectangular opening near the ceiling. Don’t even think about escaping. If you don’t believe me, run and see. 

Like all suspects, my first thought when faced with this 8m2 room was: what are my chances of escaping? Even if you run out of this door, there is a long corridor outside, followed by a large office with doors leading to all directions. You will quickly lose your sense of direction. Even if you get lucky and find your way out of the office, you will be stopped at the reception. The reception is a bright, spacious hall, fair, secure and imposing, decorated with the American flag and the FBI emblem. That’s the furthest you’d be able to run. Any further, the security guard at the front door will start shouting, “Stop! Hands in the air!” He will pull out his gun and tell you to “stand against the wall”. Then, with the gun held to the back of your head, his other hand will search your body. It’d be a rather humiliating scene, I’d actually become the bad guy. 

I am certainly not the good guy here. Through the monitor screen from the surveillance camera on the ceiling, I’m probably laden with suspicious points. The camera footage shows me as pale, undernourished, sleep deprived, distracted and slow-witted, like most Chinese people who have just landed in this country. Through the camera, in my white coat with a red scarf and fake Levi’s jeans, I am passable as an over-aged international student. Like most Asian female students, I kept the most frugal shoulder-length hairstyle. But don’t think you can easily blend in, it’s not that easy. 

6 January 2021

我看了看手表,十点半,那么就是十点二十分。我的表总比正确时间快,是增加紧迫还是虚设从容,我也搞不清。我在那张坐过杀人、纵火、抢劫、强奸、贩毒嫌疑者的椅子上坐了下来。这是一张丑陋的椅子,一坐上去便让你陷入被动和劣势。它的扶手上包着假皮革,上面有一道道划痕,是那些窘迫不安的手干的。什么都干得出来的手,坚硬肮脏的指甲在椅子上刻画,同时使谎言、狡辩不得自圆其说,这上面或许将添上我的指甲的划痕。我的手也什么都干得出来:一小时前,在书店里把一本课堂急用的书塞进了羽绒服的大口袋。我买这件不合身的羽缄服,就图它有两个巨大的口袋,使我的书本开销大大减少。我的落网很可能和我在书店的不良表现有关。

除此之外,我不觉得我有什么破绽。

门开了,进来个男人,一个标致的小伙子,头发火红,梳成保守、可靠的偏分,脸色新鲜,身上带着一股得当的科隆香气。他向我伸出手:“对不起,让你久等了。”他的京腔一点儿调也不跑。我把手给他握,我的微笑不太好看,有点魂飞魄散。审讯者的漂亮是个冷不防,他比我认识的所有美国男人都漂亮,声音纯净,笑起来白牙如光亮那样一闪。而且他很年轻,最多三十岁。不过,你别忘了你在哪里。我看不透:是因为他牙齿特别整齐,才使他的笑容格外健康呢,还是由于一副健康的笑容而使他的牙齿显得异常整齐?但是,我又提醒自己:你别忘了他是你的审讯者。

I looked at my watch, 10:30, which means it’s 10:20. My watch is always faster than the actual time, whether it’s to add urgency or for an imaginary calmness, I don’t know either. I sat down on that same chair that has been sat on by suspects of murder, arson, robbery, rape and drug dealing. It’s an ugly chair. As soon as you sit on it, you become passive and disadvantaged. The armrests are wrapped in fake leather with scratches marked by restless hands. Hands that are capable of anything. Those dirty nails, carving on the chair whilst making up lies and denials that do not quite add up. My nail marks might be added here soon. My hands are also capable of anything. When I was in a bookshop an hour ago, I stuffed a book that I urgently needed for class into my coat pocket. I bought this ill-fitting coat just because of its two huge pockets, which massively reduced my expenditure on books. My fall from grace is most likely related to my inappropriate behaviour at the bookshop. 

Apart from that, I don’t think I have any other shortcomings.

The door opens and a man walks in – a handsome young man, fresh-faced with fiery red hair, parted in a conservative, reliable way, carrying a scent of decent cologne. He held out his hand and said in Chinese, “Sorry to have kept you waiting”. His Beijing accent was spot-on. I gave him my hand to shake. My smile was not a good one, I looked a bit frightened. The interrogator’s looks was unexpected. He was better looking than all the American men I’ve met. His voice is pure and when he smiles, his white teeth shone bright like flashing light. And he was young, thirty at most. But don’t forget where you are. I couldn’t figure it out: was it because he had exceptionally straight set of teeth that made his smile appear particularly great or was it because he had a great smile that made his teeth appear unusually straight? But then I had to remind myself again, don’t forget, he is your interrogator